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Is United States Closer to War With Iraq?; Is Skinny Pill Dangerous for Children?

Aired December 9, 2002 - 20:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, GUEST HOST: And good evening. Good to have you with us this evening.
Tonight: several new developments in America's ongoing showdown with Baghdad. American officials have obtained a copy of Iraq's 12,000-page report to the U.N. on the state of its weapons program and are racing right now to find any lies or falsehoods before another country declares the report acceptable.

Also today, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on nations to share their intelligence on Iraq's programs, something the U.S. is still weighing right now.

And in Baghdad, meanwhile, weapons inspectors continued their work, checking out a former nuclear facility and a military chemical plant. Now, because the White House considers Iraq's report essentially a lie, the report's release is being seen by some as a step closer to war tonight.

And one of the people making that assessment is former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke. He is our guest tonight.

Good to see you again, Mr. Ambassador.


HEMMER: You said earlier today, in fact, on Monday, that the U.S. is a lot closer to war now than we were before the weekend began. Why?

HOLBROOKE: Colin Powell called this the last off-ramp on the road to war.

It doesn't look, from what we now know, like the Iraqis have taken it. They've given us 12,000 pages. They've denied any weapons of mass destruction. Everyone thinks they are lying. Now, I want to be clear here that Hans Blix and the U.N. inspectors are not likely to find the lies through their inspections on the ground because the tunnels are probably very deep where they're hiding this stuff.

It is going to be hard to do. But the assumption is they're lying. And I don't think it has stopped the path towards conflict.

HEMMER: So, if you can't find the evidence that's hidden underground, if that is the case, how do you find it?

HOLBROOKE: Well, that's why the United States and the United Nations put so much store in one particular clause in Security Council Resolution 1441, a clause which says that scientists, with their families, can be taken out of Iraq to be interrogated in safety outside the country. That's a key.

And when Kofi Annan today talks about governments coming forward with intelligence, he's also indirectly saying he's asking for defectors to come to Hans Blix.

HEMMER: You mention Kofi Annan.

Let's listen to his words quickly about that same topic. Here's Kofi Annan earlier today, Monday.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Mr. Blix has indicated that he would appreciate sharing of intelligence, and he would like governments who have information to give him and the inspectors that information, particularly with regards to sites where they may find hidden material.


HEMMER: So the issue then is, if the U.S. has the intelligence necessary to prove its point, do we even know if the U.S. has that evidence? Is there a smoking gun? Is there a fingerprint, where the U.S. can say, "We have this defector, and he says, in this town in that part of Iraq, you can find what you're looking for"?

HOLBROOKE: Look, you and I don't know what intelligence the U.S. government has.

But my guess -- and it's just a guess, Bill -- is, we don't have the smoking gun. However, the intelligence we have we should share with Blix. And there's a kind of a curious role reversal here. A few weeks ago, the U.S. wanted to give the intelligence to the U.N. and Blix was saying, "We don't want it." Now today, Blix and Kofi Annan are saying, "We'd like it."

And I think the U.S. government should give Blix the information to help him go for the best places. But I don't think the American public should expect that Blix is going: "Aha, got you. I found that smoking gun." Maybe it will happen, but that isn't what this is all about.

HEMMER: But part of the reason why the U.S. hasn't offered their information, they didn't want to show their hand prior to the Iraqis showing theirs. Now that you have the 12,000 pages of documents, perhaps you can proceed along that manner. Do you agree with that logic or not?

HOLBROOKE: It makes sense, but I don't think the 12,000 pages is going to have the smoking gun in it. HEMMER: Let's talk about defectors. You mentioned it. There are those who believe this is an issue that's dead in the water before it even begins. Ken Pollack, the man who wrote the book "The Threatening Storm," an excellent case...

HOLBROOKE: Excellent book.

HEMMER: Very good book, and well-detailed.

He makes the argument that, even if you get a defector to leave the country, Saddam Hussein already knows where this man has worked in the country. And you have to respond, he believes, within 24 hours, on behalf of the U.S. or the U.N. Otherwise, Saddam Hussein is going to cover his tracks.

HOLBROOKE: Speed is important. And it depends.

But, you know, biological and chemical weapons leave traces. And it's hard. If somebody comes and says, "There is a tunnel there," even if they clean the tunnel out, they can find traces.

HEMMER: You heard the comment over the weekend about the nuclear weapons program. What are we to make of this. Are the Iraqis bragging or is there more to it?

HOLBROOKE: General Saadi, either intentionally or just because he was being pressed hard by reporters, dropped a big clue.

And what he said, in effect, was that, in 1991, at the time of the invasion of Kuwait, they were very close to a nuclear weapon. And he, in effect, also said that he and Saddam Hussein are rather sorry now that they didn't hold off on invading Kuwait until they had finished making the bomb. Well, it's damn lucky that he didn't hold off, because we were able to stop him.

No one thinks they have nukes now. But Saadi, in effect, admitted that they wish they did and will keep trying until they succeed, all the more reason for what Ken Pollack called the case for changing the regime.

HEMMER: In the 30 seconds we have left, take a step back from all the arguments right now. On a very subjective level, are we that much closer to war at this point? Do the drumbeats of war continue to drum up every day?

HOLBROOKE: I think we are slightly closer to war now than we were a few days ago. We are on course for a conflict. I assume it will take place early next year.

And I think that the most important thing -- I'm assuming, Bill, as I think Americans logically would assume, that we will succeed in removing Saddam Hussein from power. I think the mightiest army in the world against Iraq, which is now one-third the size of what it was 12 years ago, demoralized, should not have difficultly. And every senior military official I have talked to, retired and current, agrees. But what happens after that, after Saddam? Afghanistan hasn't done so well since the Taliban was dispersed. We need to be ready as Americans and as an international community to recognize that we're going to have to accept a long-term prospect for involvement in Iraq to stabilize it after Saddam.

So, I would think the war will take place, probably early next year, and that, after that, we're in for a protracted period of involvement.

HEMMER: Nice to see you. We'll talk again.

HOLBROOKE: Good to see you.

HEMMER: Richard Holbrooke here in New York City.

As signals from the White House continue to suggest that it is a question of when and not if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, we wanted to consider tonight the question of whether or not the U.S. should go to war.

We asked two guys who know what war with Iraq means, because they fought America's first one back in January of 1991. Retired Marine Corps Sergeant Patrick Williams is with us tonight.

Good evening, sir. Good to see you.


HEMMER: And retired Army infantry man Charles Sheehan-Miles, author of "Prayer at Rumayla."

Good to see you as well, Charles. Good evening to you. Thanks for coming on the show with us.

Hey, Charles, why don't you start us off here?

Why is the U.S. not justified right now with war in Iraq?

RET. PVT. CHARLES SHEEHAN-MILES, AUTHOR, "PRAYER AT RUMAYLA": Well, before we commit thousands of American lives to combat and potentially being killed in combat, we need to make sure we've done everything we can to prevent it. We can probably win this thing without going to war. And that should be the goal.

HEMMER: What has the U.S. not done, in your estimation, right now regarding that argument?

SHEEHAN-MILES: Well, the biggest piece is that we have not put forward a credible argument yet that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and intends to use them against the U.S. And that's the real question.

We know Iraq was a threat to its neighbors 12 years ago. We know that, really, with American assistance, Iraq was a very large threat to Iran 20 years ago. But I've not seen anything yet that's a credible threat against the United States.

HEMMER: Charles, hang on one second.

Patrick, do you buy that? What's your argument?

WILLIAMS: I think that we should go to war. I think we need to finish the job that we started out doing. It's been 11 years and he's been a thorn in our sides. Every time we turn around, he's violating the treaty, no-fly zone.

We have Marines stationed over there constantly having to watch his every move. It's time to do something about Saddam Hussein, get him out of office, whatever it takes. If it takes an act of war, I think our armed forces are prepared and willing to go and to serve our country and to protect our way of life.

HEMMER: What about that, Charles? If you find the proof, if you find the smoking gun, why not go into battle?

SHEEHAN-MILES: Well, we cross that bring when we come to it.

But I'll give you another example. In Korea, we have the smoking gun. Why not go into battle? That's my question. The reason you make that the last resort is that many, many Americans will die. War isn't pretty. You think about September 11 and imagine it on a scale of 10 or 100 times that. And that's what will happen in that country when we go to war.

HEMMER: Patrick, do you think the U.S., the U.S. military, the American public are ready for the realities that Charles is describing to us here?

WILLIAMS: I don't know about his opinion, but I think the American people and the armed forces are prepared to go to war. I think we'll get just as much support going now as we did 11 years ago. It was a popular war.

But now we got another element. We're dealing with terrorism. And you just can't eradicate terrorism in this way. But we have to send out a message to the other countries and the terrorist countries that it will not be tolerated. We have to do something to let them know that we're not going to be pushed around again. The military forces are prepared to show their muscle. And I think that we can do it without -- a minimum loss, honestly.

HEMMER: Yes, Patrick, how do you feel about arguing with a former vet in the U.S. military about an issue that's so close to the U.S. government and things that you're so close to?

WILLIAMS: I'll tell you what. During my times in Desert Storm, the morale of the troops and the motivation and the gung ho, it was just unbelievable.

I think that you always have pros and cons, but it's our duty and it's our job to protect our country and to protect our people and our rights. And we all swore an oath of allegiance to our country to do so. And I think, when we signed that contract and we swore an oath, that we decided, right then and there, that we were to put our lives on the line. And every American or every military personnel understands that.

HEMMER: Yes, Charles, what reaction do you get from vets, people like Patrick and others? I'm sure you've shared this opinion.

SHEEHAN-MILES: They're largely very positive.

Patrick is correct about one thing. When you join the military, you are signing on to protect your country and our way of life. My whole point is and the point of a lot of people out there is that this invasion is bad for America, OK? It's not that anyone is unpatriotic or anyone is questioning the military. In fact, it's our patriotic duty to question whether or not this is the right decision.

HEMMER: And, Charles, I also want to get you on the record on this point.

What if Iraq continues in the way that Saddam Hussein likes? What if Iraq develops nuclear capability five years down the road? You're looking at a much more serious situation. Why not take out that threat today, as opposed to waiting?

SHEEHAN-MILES: Well that goes back to the same question I asked you before. What if the same thing happens in Korea or in 100 other nations? We have established means of dealing with these.

And I think there are circumstances that could evolve where we have got no other choice but to go to war with Iraq. But I have serious questions about whether or not it makes sense for us to legitimately proactively invade other countries in order to prevent what might happen, because Iraq isn't the only threat that's out there. There are many other countries.

HEMMER: Patrick, a final word in the short time we have left, 15 seconds.

WILLIAMS: I believe, with our president and his strong force and his beliefs, I do believe that he's doing the right thing. He's giving him the benefit of the doubt many, many times.

But it's time to say, enough is enough. Let's get busy. Let's do what we have to do, because we can't always say, "What if?" We need to take action now. We need to be strong. We need to come together as a team and as a country and say we are going to do this and we are going to make a stand, so the other countries can see that.

HEMMER: Appreciate both opinions tonight. Patrick Williams, Charles Sheehan-Miles, the anti and the pro in this argument, a debate that no doubt will not end any time soon, especially as the U.S. begins war games in Qatar today.

We'll get a report from Wolf Blitzer on the scene there in the Persian Gulf in a moment here -- back after this.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: overweight kids? Don't worry. Just take a pill -- the weighty issue of marketing skinny pills to kids.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns in a moment.


HEMMER: A war began today, an imaginary war, fought mostly on computers. You can't see much here, but it's being played out in the Persian Gulf, involving thousands of U.S. military personnel. But these are not your grandfather's war games at all.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer has been piecing together what we know of the games dubbed Internal Look and now joins us from the Persian Gulf country of Qatar.

Wolf, good evening to you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Bill.

It's been an exciting day here, day one of these exercises. Unfortunately, we've been able to see none of it.


BLITZER (voice-over): War games, this is what you would normally see, troops and heavy equipment in action preparing for the real thing. But here in Qatar, for what is emerging as the most important U.S. war game in years, you won't see any of that. That's because this exercise called Internal Look is being done behind closed doors or tightly shut security fences in this case with computers, video screens, and state of the art telecommunications equipment.

It got off the ground Monday morning. Commanding General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of putting a war plan against Iraq in place, will spend the next ten days or so fine tuning his ability to communicate with his troops in the region and other top military and civilian leaders back in the United States. In between, he's planning to move around the Persian Gulf region meeting with his troops and coalition partners as he would need to do during a war.

BLITZER (on camera): They built a huge air base here in Qatar, even though they have no significant air force. Their goal, if they build it they, meaning the Americans, will come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's our interest to have, you know, strong relations and it's our interest, you know, to have powerful friend next to us.

BLITZER (voice-over): So the leadership of this tiny Persian Gulf state wants American protection as do other states in the region. The U.S. military wants and needs their real estate, not just for this war game but in case there's a real thing.


BLITZER: And, increasingly, people in this part of the world are coming around to the conclusion that there will indeed be the real thing, probably sooner rather than later -- Bill.

HEMMER: Wolf, as you well know, there's a handful of small countries in that part of the world that really tries to keep the publicity that any U.S. military forces are operating from their country -- is Qatar in a similar situation? What do the people who live there think of the operation that's now been established?

BLITZER: Well, they know what's going on. The media here, the news media in Qatar are pretty free. People have an idea of what's going on. They know these exercises are going on. They're on the front pages of the newspapers here.

At the same time, they welcome U.S. protection. They welcome the United States. They like things American. They like Americans. They're not happy with U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian problem. That seems to overshadow a lot of the conversations we have with average, rank-and-file people who live here in this small, but critically important Persian Gulf state.

HEMMER: Yes, and also, Wolf, back to the issue of CENTCOM moving 1,000 personnel to that country, there was a disconnect during the war with Afghanistan: soldiers, special ops on the ground in Afghanistan and the communication, or lack thereof, from Tampa, Florida. Have we been able to gauge just yet, from your perspective, whether or not that disconnect has been cut down?

BLITZER: I think that's one of the reasons why General Franks, who commanded the military operation in Afghanistan, Bill, as you well know, he wanted to make sure that they've gone through this dry run, this dress rehearsal, so that there won't be any disconnects in the communications.

So far, it's only day one. They anticipate there will be plenty of glitches. They want to make sure they iron out all those problems now in the next several days and weeks, before the order is given by the commander in chief, namely the president of the United States, to go to war, if in fact he eventually makes that decision.

HEMMER: Thank you, Wolf -- Wolf Blitzer again reporting in Qatar tonight for us.

A very different war ripping apart the Boston Catholic Church is spreading now from the states to Vatican City. That tops tonight's look at "The World in: 60."


(voice-over): Boston's beleaguered Cardinal Bernard Law faces the pope in Vatican City today. Word is, the two will likely talk about problems facing the Boston Archdiocese, still reeling from a sex abuse scandal, possible bankruptcy, and growing calls for Law's resignation.

In Kenya: photos of two suspects linked to that failed missile attack on an Israeli jet. Police also now are offering a reward of more than $6,000 to help catch them. Al Qaeda is boasting that it plotted the attack on the Israeli airliner and the Kenya blast that killed 13. A Web site warning also vows more lethal assaults on Israel and on the U.S.

Outrage from Yasser Arafat over what he calls Israel's trumped-up charge of Palestinian links to al Qaeda. Arafat says it's just a cover for Israel's military campaign.

Down under: the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, still ablaze. Weary firefighters battling bush fires fed by strong winds and rising temperatures.


ANNOUNCER: Next: He was born to a nomadic bedouin family. Now he is the longest-serving leader in the Arab world, ruling his country with an iron fist: Moammar Gadhafi.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.


HEMMER: Tonight, in our "Iron Fist" series: We've been looking at dictators with whom the U.S. has clashed to see what lessons they can offer about Saddam Hussein today.

Tonight, we look at a dictator who spent most of his 30-plus years in power as an exporter and financier of terror overseas, including terror against many Americans.

As CNN's Art Harris now reports, these days, he wants the world to accept him as a kinder, gentler Moammar Gadhafi.


ART HARRIS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a bedouin with humble roots and radical beliefs who prefers female bodyguards and likes to sleep in a tent wherever he goes.

SAMER SHEHATA, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: A very nice tent, air-conditioned, large, comfortable.

HARRIS: Moammar Gadhafi: born in 1944, the son of a camel merchant. He joined the Libyan army and, in 1969, overthrew the monarchy. A dictator at 27, Gadhafi made terror part of foreign policy, for two decades backing groups like the Irish Republican Army, the PLO, even Abu Nidal.

Gadhafi: flamboyant, unpredictable, who called President Reagan crazy.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN PRESIDENT: I'm sorry to say, this man is mad.


HARRIS: Or was Gadhafi the madman, critics wondered.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By providing material support to terrorist groups which attack U.S. citizen, Libya has engaged in armed aggression.


HARRIS: 1985: In dual airport attacks in Rome and Vienna, terrorists murder 16 and injure 60, terrorists believe backed by Gadhafi.


REAGAN: Gadhafi's longstanding involvement in terrorism is well- documented. And there's irrefutable evidence of his role in these attacks.


HARRIS: 1986: A Berlin disco bombing kills two U.S. servicemen. Prosecutors blame Gadhafi.


REAGAN: The Libyan people are a decent people, caught in the grip of a tyrant.


HARRIS: As payback, U.S. fighter jets bombed Gadhafi's home. He escapes, but Libya claims several dozen dead, including one of Gadhafi's adopted children.

1988: Pan Am 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew are killed, along with 11 villagers. Gadhafi denies any ties to Pan Am 103, but two Libyan intelligence agents are charged with murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103.

HARRIS: When Libya refuses to hand over the suspects, the U.N. bans arm sales and air travel. And Washington lays down sanctions, too.

In 1999, when Gadhafi finally turns over his agents, the U.N. suspends embargoes. Two years later, this Libyan agent is found guilty and jailed for 20 years. The other is acquitted and welcomed home by Gadhafi. Libya has since offered to pay Pan Am 103 victims $10 million each when the U.N. finally lifts all sanctions.

SHEHATA: He seems to have realized that sponsoring organizations that use violence for political ends does not pay off. He has suffered and Libya has suffered as a result of the U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

HARRIS (on camera): While Moammar Gadhafi indicates he wants to rebuild bridges to the West, questions remain. Just how easy will it be for Gadhafi to prove he's really changed, that he's no longer an ally of terror? And is the outside world willing to believe?

(voice-over): Gadhafi claims he has actually arrested al Qaeda terrorists. If such reports are true, some experts say, that would certainly be another bizarre twist in the war on terror.

Art Harris, CNN, Atlanta.


HEMMER: So then, tonight, if Saddam Hussein can go from friend to foe, can Moammar Gadhafi go from foe to friend?

Professor Michael Hudson of Georgetown University's Center of Contemporary Arab Studies is now our guest from Washington.

Good to see you, Professor. Good evening to you.


HEMMER: What gives here, do you believe, in Libya?

HUDSON: Well, I think that Moammar Gadhafi really has mellowed over time. I think it's party the pressure of sanctions. It's partly so many failed experiments that he's undertaken in his 33 years of power, that he's had to rethink a lot of things.

And I think, therefore, he is trying to repackage himself. And that's why his support for the U.S. effort against international terrorism is such an interesting sign. But I think, at the same time, you have to remember that this is still a very authoritarian regime. The secret police still carry out very Draconian steps. There is very little political freedom in the country.

But Gadhafi, insane, or as eccentric, at least, as he may be, does seem to indicate a certain kind of learning curve here. And I think he's trying to get out from under the label of rogue and terrorist. But, clearly, it's going to take a little more convincing to bring the Bush administration around to recognize him in his new persona.

HEMMER: You took me right into my next point here. And that is, is there any traction at any level of the U.S. government that is willing to give Moammar Gadhafi a break?

HUDSON: Oh, I think there is now.

I think that, within the government, there's a feeling, perhaps within the State Department and within the Commerce Department, that Libya has reformed and that Libya can play an important role. Libya is an important oil state. And I think, in addition to that, there has been considerable subtle pressure from our European friends, who have been quicker to make peace with Gadhafi, to tell us that it's really OK now.

HEMMER: Michael Hudson from Georgetown University with us tonight, again, in Washington.

Still ahead in a moment: Did he get whacked? Will he be back? Hell hath no Furio, but we do. We'll chat with him after the break here.

ANNOUNCER: Next: Skinny pills being peddled on the Internet targeting kids as young as 6 years old, are they safe? And how young is too young?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.


HEMMER: Has America's obsession with weight gone too far? And are kids as young as 6 years old paying the price for that?

Fifteen percent of kids 6 to 11 years old are said to be overweight in the U.S. And now a new product targeting those kids, or at least the parents anyway. It's called the Skinny Pill. It's a mixture of minerals, vitamins and herbs. And it's marketed as part of an overall weight loss plan. And it's causing a lot of controversy, too.

Pediatric experts told CNN that diuretics in the pill could damage your child's kidneys and liver and possibly lead to electrolyte imbalance.

Earlier today, I talked with the creator the Skinny Pills, Edita Kaye.


HEMMER: Good evening.


HEMMER: Thanks for joining us tonight.

KAYE: Thank you very much for inviting me.

HEMMER: Well, you are welcome.

Why do you believe that young kids in America need this pill?

KAYE: Well, the pill is really getting a lot of controversial coverage today.

The pill is part of a complete program that I have developed for children as a result of requests from parents, from mothers and fathers, and from teachers and from children themselves. I have been doing weight loss for women for about three years now with a product I call the Skinny Pill. And it's been very successful. And women have been calling me and e-mailing me, as have their kids, and saying: "You know what? I'm doing great. What can I do for my children?"

HEMMER: And this is how you respond.

KAYE: And this is how it evolved.

HEMMER: What's in it?

KAYE: Well, I think I have my science team on after this. And they will explain.

But, basically, what's in it are wonderful vitamins. The B vitamins are there. We have -- fruit fibers are in it. We have got things that you could really go and get in any good health food store or any drugstore for children. And the product comes with what I'm very excited about. It comes with a wonderful food plan that's quite unique for kids.

It's a series of flash cards for children. And it talks about -- it takes a positive approach. Our kids are getting fatter and fatter, as are grownups, actually. We Americans are the fattest people on Earth. Here's what I always say. Look, the traditional things that we've tried are not working. We have very frightened and frustrated parents out there with obese children, who, some of them, the tragedy, they get stuffed into garbage cans and so on.

HEMMER: Let me stop you on that.


KAYE: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

HEMMER: Why did you need medication for that? What ever happened to exercise?

KAYE: Well, it's not medication. These are vitamin supplements.

What ever happened to exercise? OK, see, this is great. You're taking the traditional route.

HEMMER: It's fine. Not a problem at all.

KAYE: And I will tell you.

First of all, let's go out and exercise. This is the traditional wisdom. Go out and exercise. Stop eating fast food and turn off the TV. America, let's get real.

HEMMER: It sounds logical, though, right?

KAYE: This is not going to happen.

HEMMER: Why not? KAYE: Well, because, first of all, parents lose control of their children from the minute they put them on a school bus to the minute they get them back.

I think many families are overworked, overstressed. We have a lot of single parents raising children. And we also have problems now. Where are our children going to actually play? It's not safe for us. When I was a kid, I rode my bike on the street, played in a park. I think there is a huge concern. We live in a different world than I grew up in -- certainly not you, because you're much younger than me.

So, what I'm doing is, I'm saying to kids: Look, getting skinny and getting healthy can be fun. The same foods that made you fat are going to make you skinny. All you need is to have a watch to be able to tell time. In the morning, have an orange. At night, have some peanut butter. Take some of these supplements. The supplements are a motivator as well. They're an important motivator. I'm just ringing a bell here.

HEMMER: Yes, I got you and I want you to stop for a second.

KAYE: You want me to inhale?


HEMMER: No, we are going to have some people come on here.

Frankly, we've heard from a lot of experts today who say it is junk science. They say it doesn't work, it's not plausible, and you shouldn't be teaching kids this way. You should revert back to more traditional ways, which is something you referred to a minute ago.

KAYE: The traditional ways aren't working, then.

HEMMER: How do you defend the claim that it's junk science?

KAYE: Well, I do defend it.

First of all, it's put together by scientists. I didn't cook this stuff up in my kitchen on the sink. This was put together by scientists. I have a list of physicians, if anybody needs a doctor who would like to talk -- they would like to talk to, they can simply call me or go to and we are happy to help them find an American doctor who would be happy to tell them the positive things.

I think it's been exciting. There's been a debate focused. The debate really should be -- here's what I say. And this is my challenge today. And thank you for saying it. Everybody, doctors, nurses, teachers, big brothers, moms and dads, help me. If you may not agree with what I'm doing, I'm trying to get American kids healthy. There's room for all of us. Help me out, guys.

HEMMER: We are going to continue the debate here.

But, first, thanks to you, Edita Kaye. KAYE: Thank you very much for inviting me.

HEMMER: Nice to see you. You got it.

KAYE: It was a pleasure. Thanks.

HEMMER: And joining me now: Jose Diaz De La Rocha director of quality control and formulation at Powell Laboratories, which produces those pills. And we have Albert Einstein College of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics Keith Ayoob, who is also a spokesperson for the American Dietetics Association and opposes the release of the Skinny Pills.

Good evening to you as well.

Let's start here in New York.

You are the one who coined this phrase, junk science, earlier today. Why is it junk? Why is this stuff not good?

KEITH AYOOB, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION: Actually, it's a term that's been around a long time.

And, first of all, one of the red flags of junk science, Bill, is, you never get nutrition information from somebody who is trying to sell you a product. Now, the ingredients here have never been tested on kids. And there are herbs in here that are not indicated for kids.

HEMMER: First of all, are there people taking this?

AYOOB: I believe the release date is this weekend.

HEMMER: If that's the case, what kind of reaction have they gotten from it?


AYOOB: It's a new product that hasn't come out until I think today.

HEMMER: OK. And given that, though, has there been anything done in terms of laboratory testing? Have there been any clinical trials? Has there been anything that has gone on record and said, yes, this in fact does work?

AYOOB: To my knowledge -- and I've read a lot of the research -- the research on the ingredients in this pill are not associated with weight loss.

There's no magic pill, Bill. The only way to lose weight is to reduce your calorie intake and to increase your activity. And this just kind of goes to show you how dangerous it is sometimes to get your nutrition information from somebody who is not credentialed.

HEMMER: Why is this dangerous? What's harmful? AYOOB: Because you are getting inaccurate information. This is a bogus product. It is not going to help anybody lose weight. The only weight you are going to lose is from your pocketbook.

HEMMER: I want to go to Mr. De La Rocha in Florida with us.

Sir, tell us about this, this claim that, essentially, Dr. Ayoob and others expressed a concern about this being, essentially, dangerous for young people. That claim is backed up by you how?

JOSE DIAZ DE LA ROCHA, PAL LABORATORIES: OK. First, good evening for you and for all your TV.

This product is a fiber product. Mainly, it's fiber. And fiber is proven that the children and all the people that eat fiber will feel full and they're going to eat less. This product has also some vitamin B, but the mainly ingredients are fiber. If you look at the fiber, you will see they are very good to lose weight.

HEMMER: What is uva ursi, which is one of the components. What is that ingredient?

DE LA ROCHA: Yes, that is a diuretic. But they are in the very, very small amount, far away, very far away from the therapeutic dosage.

HEMMER: So you're saying, essentially, that all this does is fill up a person's stomach and prevents them from eating more, right?

DE LA ROCHA: That's correct. And that's correct.

And, of course, I agree with -- if you take this pill and, of course, if you do exercise, it will be better. But with this pill, the children will feel full. That's the purpose of the pill.

HEMMER: Got it.


AYOOB: OK, first of all, if the uva ursi is in such small quantities, keep it out of there, because the "Physician's Desk Reference" on uva ursi, the gold standard, has indicated -- I've got the printout right here -- it says it is contraindicated for children under the age of 12. Anybody who had done their homework would realize that is not an herb to be giving to kids. A diuretic for kids, it doesn't work.

HEMMER: So, again, your claim is that this is dangerous for some people.

AYOOB: It could potentially be.


AYOOB: It hasn't been tested on kids. It hasn't been tested on kids. It shouldn't be in this product. DE LA ROCHA: He said potentially. I agree.

The amount, again, of the diuretics are in very small amount, very small amount, because the children have to take a lot of water with this pill. This is not a problem at all.


DE LA ROCHA: Excuse me.

The therapeutic dosage for uva ursi is 10 grams per day. And this is far, far, far away from that kind of amount. It's only a few milligrams.

AYOOB: First of all, it doesn't belong in a product. The product will not help anybody lose weight. My God, that's why we want kids to eat more fruits, eat more vegetables, eat more whole grains.

And that's what a qualified nutrition professional, like myself and other registered dietitians work every day with families, because they're important to me and their kids are important to me.

HEMMER: Doctor, hold that thought. You raised an interesting point before.

Mr. De La Rocha, why has this not been tested with children?

DE LA ROCHA: First of all, this product is a fiber product. And we are only the manufacturers. We at Pal Labs in Miami, Florida, we manufacture the products for clients in all the world at the request of a client. What the client do --- the marketing of the product, we are not involved in the marketing of the product.

HEMMER: Mr. De La Rocha, do you have children?

DE LA ROCHA: No, sir.

HEMMER: You don't.

DE LA ROCHA: Yes. But I have almost children that are mine.

HEMMER: If that's the case, then, would you give them this pill?

DE LA ROCHA: Of course.

First of all, I believe any people, any father or mother, that have kids, if you give someone to your child, you have to consult with your doctor. You have to be careful. We agree with that. We are an FDA facility. We don't do nothing that is against the law.

But for all the fathers and mothers that are seeing this, if you give someone this pill or whatever pill you're giving to your child, you have to see a doctor, if something goes wrong. I agree with that. I agree with the doctor. But this is


This is fiber. And the fiber -- the kids, you know, Doctor, they don't want to eat fiber. That's the problem.

HEMMER: I understand your point.

Doctor, a quick final thought here.

AYOOB: I absolutely disagree. I disagree. I work with kids every day who eat higher-fiber diets. And we gradually change their diets.

You want to get your nutrition information. I agree. Ask your doctor. If you ask your doctor, a medical doctor would never want a child to be harmed by the nutritional ingredients in this product. There are herbs that should not be given to children. And it's in the "Physician's Desk Reference" that it should not be given to children under 12, the very children it's marketed to.

HEMMER: That is going to be the last word.

Dr. Ayoob...


HEMMER: Sorry, Mr. De La Rocha, we're out of time.

Jose Diaz De La Rocha in Florida, thank you both gentlemen tonight.

I should add, the "Physician's Desk Reference" states that uva ursi, the ingredient in the pill we just mentioned, should never be given to children, because they say it can cause liver damage.

And the controversy does not stop there. Later this week, on Wednesday, we'll have a teenager and her mother. Both had gastric bypass surgery in order to lose weight.

In a moment tonight: HBO's shattering "Sopranos" season finale and the man behind this secret finally revealed. Furio is here -- back after this.


HEMMER: Well, last evening, if you saw it on HBO, "The Sopranos" season finale went down during a scene far more intense and suspenseful than any mob whacking. Edie Falco turned in a stunning performance -- in fact, she did it twice within the hour -- telling her husband, Tony, she's been fantasizing about another man.


JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR: He talked to you. Oh, poor you.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: He made me feel like I mattered! GANDOLFINI: You asked me the other day what Irene's cousin has that you don't have. And I thought about, because it's a pretty good (EXPLETIVE DELETED) question. And, yes, she's sexy enough, even with the one pin gone. But that's not it. I could converse with her because she had something to say!

FALCO: I am here! I have things to say!


HEMMER: So, then, who was the other man who triggered such rage? How about Furio, played by actor Federico Castelluccio? And he's our guest tonight.

Good to see you.

FEDERICO CASTELLUCCIO, ACTOR: All right, good to see you.

HEMMER: So, you're trouble, huh, with a capital T.

CASTELLUCCIO: Big time. Big-time trouble, yes.



HEMMER: When did you know, at what point in the plot, that was your role in terms of being written into this series?

CASTELLUCCIO: Pretty much right from the beginning of the season.

HEMMER: Oh, you did?


HEMMER: Back in September, you knew?

CASTELLUCCIO: Oh, yes. David Chase gave us the lowdown on what was going to happen this year with each character.

HEMMER: Well, hang on a second. I talked to Johnny "Sack" this morning, OK?

CASTELLUCCIO: What'd he say?

HEMMER: He was on "AMERICAN MORNING" with us today. He says it's on a need-to-know basis. He says you get the scripts one episode ahead of the other.

CASTELLUCCIO: That's true.

But when you start -- like, when one character starts making eyes at the other, you kind of know where it's going to go. So I kind of assumed where it was going to go. And, sure enough, it did.

HEMMER: What did you think of last night?

CASTELLUCCIO: Unbelievable.

HEMMER: Tell me why.

CASTELLUCCIO: Amazing, amazing performance by James Gandolfini and Edie Falco. I think Edie Falco is going to win an Emmy this year for that performance.

HEMMER: What about James?

CASTELLUCCIO: Probably him, too.

HEMMER: Why not?


They work so well together. It looks like they've really been together for 20 years.

HEMMER: So, what happens when you pick up a review this morning and the headline says, "'Sopranos' season finale is dull; it caps off a season that was slow"?

CASTELLUCCIO: I don't know what to make of that. I really don't.

I guess people see things differently. I'm looking at it very intently and very character like, looking at the characters and what they're doing. And I thought it was really wonderful.

HEMMER: Let me ask you a very basic question, because we talked to all the actors on the show and asked the same thing. Why do you think the show has had such success? Why do 13.5 million people tune into cable, no less, to see the premiere back in September?

CASTELLUCCIO: I think the way the characters are written and the way the storyline is written, it goes very deep into the characters. People love mob stories and mob dramas. And they love family dramas. And it's a combination of both.

HEMMER: Well, let me be a critic here quick.

Some people have suggested that the series developed, the plotlines developed much more slowly than they could have, suggesting that you could have packed probably half a dozen shows into one and kept it moving along. When you hear that, do you agree? Can you be pushed a little bit into buying that argument?

CASTELLUCCIO: No, it's true. I think David Chase does that on purpose, actually. He doesn't want to give you too much too soon. He knows that there is going to be another season. I think he tried to figure out what was going to happen for two seasons.

HEMMER: So here's the other thing I want to know.


HEMMER: What are you talking about over here?


HEMMER: What I want to know is this. As an actor on a very successful show, do you get worried about getting whacked? Because, essentially, that ends the popularity.

CASTELLUCCIO: Oh, yes, absolutely. I think every actor kind of like turns the page and wonders if: Wow, is that going to be it for me or what? I certainly thought that when I first started reading the scripts early on.

HEMMER: So, what do you think now? You got to be No. 1 on the list, don't you think?

CASTELLUCCIO: Yes. Well, I said to one of writers, producers, Terry Winter, I said, "Terry, am I going to get this this year?" He goes: "I don't know. I don't think so. But..."


HEMMER: That's the secret code, is this?


HEMMER: You're Italian, right?


HEMMER: Born in?

CASTELLUCCIO: I was born in Italy.

HEMMER: Born in Italy.

CASTELLUCCIO: Naples, Naples, Italy.

HEMMER: You came to the U.S. at what, age of 4, 5?

CASTELLUCCIO: Yes, I was about 4 years old, 1968.

HEMMER: Do you have any reservations at all playing the role of a mobster on TV?


HEMMER: Really?

CASTELLUCCIO: Absolutely, because it's acting.

HEMMER: What happened two years ago when the critics came out and said they're casting the Italian-Americans in the wrong light?

CASTELLUCCIO: You know, I really feel that they need to really watch the show. I think they're judging a book by its cover. I think they really need to look at what's going on in the show. I think it's a little bit more profound and poignant than what these people are trying to say.

HEMMER: What about your writers? Are they Italian?

CASTELLUCCIO: Yes, most of them are, actually, yes, except for Terry Winter. He's Irish.

HEMMER: Terry Winter.

CASTELLUCCIO: But he's an honorary Italian.

HEMMER: Winter, I think you're right.


HEMMER: Give us a clue. Next season?


HEMMER: Do you have any idea which direction it's going to go?

CASTELLUCCIO: Wow. You know what? I don't even know if my character is going to come back. I swear.

HEMMER: Well, you got to show up for one show, right?

CASTELLUCCIO: I don't know. I really don't know. David Chase has it planned out. And I just have no idea what's going to happen.

HEMMER: What about a movie? Do you see that in the offing?

CASTELLUCCIO: There was rumor about a movie, yes. I think Brad Grey mentioned that in something I read, yes. I think that would be great, ending it off with a two-hour film.

HEMMER: Hey, man. Good to see you.

CASTELLUCCIO: Good to see you, too.

HEMMER: Thanks for being a sport, too.

CASTELLUCCIO: Pleasure. All right.

HEMMER: And we'll see you on down the road.


HEMMER: This guy is true Italian. He has leather on head to toe, by the way. What do you got, some crocodile here? What is this in the middle?

CASTELLUCCIO: This just pure leather.

(CROSSTALK) HEMMER: And the shoes are?

CASTELLUCCIO: I don't know what that is.


HEMMER: They're something.


CASTELLUCCIO: PETA is going to come after here. Don't come after me, PETA.

HEMMER: Great to see you. Good luck to you, all right?


HEMMER: All right, want to get to our "Snapshot" right now.

Tonight, it begins with today's farewell in New York City, a farewell for the man who changed the picture for everyone in television and for everyone who was watching at home.


(voice-over): A list of who's who on ABC's news roster, delivering stories of rumor and inspiration in a final tribute to Roone Arledge. The news and sports pioneer died last Thursday from complications of cancer. He was 71.

Cuba is known for communism and fine cigars, but how about chess? Havana bills it the world's largest chess exhibition ever: 11,000 chess games being play in Revolution Square to top the world record recently set in Mexico.

Can you ever get enough of "Jerry Springer"? One of America's most lurid TV talk shows is now crossing the pond to claim a new venue: "Jerry Springer" the opera, due to open next year in London.

And after a 3,000-mile journey across Canada, the U.S., and half of Mexico, millions of monarch butterflies settling in for the winter, an annual ritual that baffles scientists to this day.


ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Who will be our "Person of the Day?"

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.


HEMMER: Tonight: our hopes about what someone will do and possibly may do, a motivator of choice for today's "Person of the Day."

John Snow is being nominated by President Bush to be the new treasury secretary. A lawyer, an economist, Snow served in the top ranks the Ford administration's Transportation Department. But, for the past 25 years, he's been making the trains run on time. Snow helped make CSX the biggest rail freight operator in the entire Eastern half of the U.S., pulling down $20 million a year, while also heading a panel calling for reforming executive compensation.

Now, unlike his predecessor, Snow seems to have no doubt about the president's desire for sweeping new tax cuts.


JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: I pledge to you to use all my talents, my power, my energy and my ability to strengthen the current economic recovery.


HEMMER: And when you consider the news of the day, this recovery today, seeing one of America's biggest bankruptcy filings on Monday, United Airlines filed then -- and it also comes as unemployment figures hit 6 percent. That was last week. But that's an eight-year high. John Snow certainly has his work cut out for him. But, today, he is our "Person of the Day."

Tomorrow: What's really been going on with Michael Jackson? Who might know better than his own brother? Connie is going to sit down and talk one-on-one with Jermaine Jackson. Again, that's tomorrow right here.

Coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE": Kelly Marino. She's the mother of Derek and Alex King, the Florida boys convicted of killing their father. She'll be on with Larry right after this.

Connie is back tomorrow. Join her then. I'll see you tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING," 7:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks for watching tonight and have a good night.


Dangerous for Children?>

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